Publication Date


Document Type



School for Social Work


Yalom, Irvin D., 1931-, Abusive men-Rehabilitation, Abusive men-Counseling of, Group psychotherapy, Social groups-Psychological aspects, Defense mechanisms (Psychology), Batterer, Treatment, Domestic violence, Group therapy, Yalom


Domestic violence is an intractable problem, the treatment of which has stymied practioners from multiple disciplines. Research within psychology, criminal justice, and social work indicates that batterer treatment shows inconsistent outcomes. This qualitative study addresses two questions minimally addressed in the literature: How do mandated batterer treatment groups change the maturity of psychological defense mechanisms? What group dynamics emerge in offender treatment that are unique to this population? This study analyzed the individual and group processes that occurred during a treatment cycle for domestic violence perpetrators. Analysis of the group transcripts assessed batterers' psychological defense mechanisms, ego functioning, and the degree to which these groups followed Yalom's theory regarding the curative nature of group therapy. Significant findings included identification of factors within the clinical milieu that impeded progress, psychological themes that triggered use of low-level defenses, and pathological group dynamics that created a counter-therapeutic effect.




iii, 175 p. : ill. Dissertation (Ph.D.)--Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass., 2009. Includes bibliographical references (p. 159-166)